As the Philadelphia Eagles get ready to face their cross-state opponents the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, the Eagles defense will be put the test at Heinz Field.
The defense performed well in Week 4 against the NY Giants. However, Pittsburgh, led by Ben Roethlisberger, will present a different kind of challenge than Eli Manning and the Giants did.
Roethlisberger is known for holding onto the ball longer than most quarterbacks and extending plays. He is able to do this with his size and ability to make plays under pressure.
The Eagles' defense will have to keep constant pressure on Roethlisberger, who has already been sacked nine times in three games this season. Roethlisberger is used to taking a beating though. Taking a few sacks in a game is not uncommon for him. He thrives under the pressure compared to most.
Roethlisberger is 5th in completion percentage while under pressure at 61.3%. When not blitzed, he has a QB rating of 112.2 and when he’s blitzed the rating drops only to 104.3, not a significant drop. “The one thing he does a great job with is that he extends plays,” Eagles' head coach Andy Reid said. This puts added pressure on the secondary as they will have to cover players longer.
In addition to the challenge Roethlisberger will present, the Steelers will get a boost with returning injured players. The Steelers have been plagued by injuries so far this season but are looking to have the return of Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall. Performing well at Heinz Field is always a challenge for opposing teams, as the Steelers have won nine out of their last ten home games.
It looks like the Eagles will be faced with another close game, which so far this season they have been able to make go in their favor. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Eagles are the first team in NFL history to win each of their first three games by two points or less. The Steelers will definitely present a challenge to the Eagles to keep that streak alive.